Wednesday, December 8

Record Review: The Fun Years [God Was Like, No, Barge Recordings]

by Jennifer Graciano
“God Was Like, No” (Barge Recordings, 2010) is the long awaited third album from experimental duo The Fun Years. With the release of “Baby It’s Cold Inside” (Barge, 2008), Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks gathered a cult-like following of listeners and the attention of all those interested in experimental music. Although the two have been releasing material for some time now, it wasn’t until their track "I'm Speaking Through Barbara" was included on Kompakt's Pop Ambient series in 2009 that they received extensive recognition for their unique material. The Fun Years continue to create waves of droned out sound in the vein of musicians such as Tim Hecker, Philip Jeck, Arovane, and Fennesz with their new album.

The chuckles I let out while reading the album and song titles (like “Get Out of the Obese Crowd,” “And They Think My Name is Dequan”..) are all but forgotten as the music itself proves to be quite ominous, making me regret I ever laughed.

“Breech on the Bowstring” opens up the album with a lovely guitar texture, its beauty soon enveloped by overpowering noise from warped and drawn-out chords. The all too familiar crackle of looped vinyl is nestled in the background. Reaching the four minute mark everything is obscured by the rush of sounds competing for your attention, and the charm that drew you in is no more. An impressive track all around, managing to feel like a colossal work..yet extremely fragile.

The remaining tracks follow suit as the general overpowering feel to “Breech on the Bowstring” is carried throughout the rest of the album. The murkiness of “Makes Sense to Me” comes and goes as the tracks erratic quality has a guitar riff weaving in and out, eventually fizzing out altogether. And “Little Vapors” is a spacey delight, with a dense bubbling quality that swells brilliantly through ones speakers.

“Get Out of the Obese Crowd” continues the gongs that emerged in “And They Think My Name is Dequan” and slowly morphs into a chaotic track with unintelligible vocals and eerie glitching noise. It’s hard not to think of the similarities between The Fun Years and Fennesz at this point, as this song could easily fit into Fennesz’s catalog. “Precious Persecution Complex” wraps up the 43 minute long head-trip perfectly, the pop and hiss still nestled in the background as it was in opening track.

It’s not often you come across a full-length album that you can listen to from start to finish, “God Was Like, No” is one of those albums. As each track flows seamlessly together, it becomes impossible to differentiate between them. The beginning and end of each song are obscured by the beautifully crafted transitions creating an astounding landscape of sound.. You’ll press play on “Breech on the Bowstring” and before you know it you’ve listened to the entire album three times in one sitting. And don’t even try listening to it out of order.. treat this album like an epic tale and immerse yourself in its wonder as intended.

“God Was Like, No” may be the duo’s best work to date. Ben Recht, and Isaac Sparks have managed to perfect their unique sound and exploit it to create one of my favorite releases this year. Mastering the manipulation of sound, they have created some of the best ambient, experimental--whatever you want to call it--music out there. They have conceived something that leaves the listener feeling more than satisfied.

“God Was Like, No” is a necessary purchase for any fan of experimental music and may very well be one of the best experimental releases of this year.

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